How to make sourdough bread in an air fryer

meIt’s hard not to fall passionately in love with every loaf of bread we come across. Seriously, what’s not to love about a freshly baked baguette, boule, or sprouted grain slice? However, there is only something about sourdough bread that will always have a special place in our hearts. It’s fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside, and has a deliciously tangy flavor that complements a rich, creamy butter blend like no other, and is pretty much the perfect vehicle for making avocado toast. Plus, sourdough is RD approved and packed with tons of longevity-boosting health benefits, plus key vitamins and minerals to help keep your bones strong as you age. Need I say more?

That said, many of us thought we’d never have time to try baking sourdough bread from scratch, until, well, we got bored during quarantine. However, after the pandemic forced us all to spend a lot of quality time in our kitchens, it’s safe to say that we all emerged better cooks, bakers, or (at the very least) connoisseurs of bread, including banana bread.

So now that we’re feeling much more comfortable dabbling in the DIY bread department, it might be time to give sourdough a real go. And to make the seemingly daunting task as accessible as possible, how about we do it all in our handy air fryer? Yes, that’s right, our beloved kitchen appliance that does it all can do this too. (Way to achieve more, air fryer).

Read on to learn how to make sourdough in your air fryer in just a few simple steps so you can *finally* enjoy bakery-worthy bread anytime.

How to make sourdough bread in a deep fryer

While making sourdough is not exactly difficult, it does require a bit of patience and the right ingredients. So, let’s break it down.

1. Prepare the dough. Of course, the foundation of any good sourdough bread is a quality starter, also known as the natural leavening agent created by the fermentation process (this is what gives bread its distinctive tart flavor and bubbly texture, without mention its benefits to stimulate the intestine). One of the easiest ways to make an entree is to use active dry yeast that you can buy at the store. But if you can’t get one, don’t worry. This is exactly how to make a sourdough starter from scratch without yeast.

Once your entree is ready (be sure to plan several days in advance), combine all the ingredients for your favorite sourdough bread recipe. This can include the sourdough starter, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, oil, and warm water (if needed). Gently combine ingredients to form a fluffy-textured dough. Of course, you can use a bread machine for this step, but frankly, who has counter space for a bulkier appliance?

2. Carry out bulk fermentation using the air fryer. For this step, you’ll want to enlist the help of your air fryer to create the perfect environment for the dough to ferment and start reaching its full potential. For the portion, you’ll allow the dough to rise in a warm area (aka your deep fryer) in 30-minute increments (about an hour total), where you create a series of creases down the middle. This process, also known as bulk fermentation, helps the gluten begin to form. After the initial hour, you’ll want to continue proofing the dough for another two hours.

These days, most air fryers also come equipped with a “proof” setting, which you’ll want to use to create the ideal low-temperature home for your dough to rise. The temperature should be around 80°F, which will help the fermentation process progress.

3. Shape the dough. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, where you’ll shape it by carefully pulling the outer edges toward the center and repeating the process until a plump, round, boule-like shape forms, seams together at the top ( like a soup ball). Next, you’ll want to reposition the dough into a floured bread basket (seam side up), cover with a damp cloth, and let rise again (this time at room temperature) for another 90 minutes.

4. Use the air fryer to bake the bread. Taste the dough to make sure it’s ready to use by poking it lightly. If the surface is barely dimpled from the applied pressure, then it’s done.

Now for the fun part: air frying the batter. Typically, at this point in a sourdough recipe, you preheat a dutch oven to cook the bread in a good old-fashioned oven. But why go old school when you can use an air fryer?

Start by preheating the air fryer to 390°F for about three minutes. Then turn the dough over, score the surface with a bread lick to help it rise, and place it (seam side down) on the grill insert in the air fryer. Make sure the dough fits snugly inside and the fryer is big enough so the bread has enough room to expand on all sides.

Air-fry the batter for about 20 minutes, stirring gently halfway through the cooking time. The surface should be golden brown in color and the internal temperature between 190°F and 200°F. Transfer to a baking rack to cool.

Some considerations when baking sourdough bread in a deep fryer:

In this sourdough bread recipe from JL Goes Vegan, JL Fields shares his easy method for air frying bread, but says there are a few simple modifications to make it successful. To use a regular sourdough recipe in a deep fryer, Fields recommends lowering the cooking temperature by about 30°F and cutting the cooking time in half. Like a convection oven, an air fryer circulates hot air with a fan, giving food a more even, crisp finish. However, due to its small size (compared to an oven), an air fryer heats up much more intensely. Hence the need to reduce the cooking time and temperature accordingly to prevent your delicate bread from browning…literally.

How to make bread in an air fryer
Photo: JL Goes Vegan

Air Fryer Sourdough Bread Recipe

Makes 8 servings

1 cup sourdough (I used 1/2 cup traditional sourdough and 1/2 cup whole wheat sourdough)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup 100 percent whole wheat flour
1 spoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Combine ingredients in the order listed in a bread maker. Choose the dough-only setting (usually one hour and 28 minutes) for mixing, kneading, and proofing (make sure the “heat” function is off—you don’t want to bake in the machine!). If you are not using a bread machine, use whichever method you prefer for the mixing and kneading process.

2. Once the dough function is complete, remove the paddles from the bread machine and allow the dough to rise/ferment for four hours.

3. After four hours, transfer the dough to a floured proofing basket to rise for another three hours.

4. Just before you are ready to air fry, preheat the fryer for three minutes to 390°F. Gently flip the dough, out of the proofer basket, onto the grill insert in the air fryer (you want the bottom of the dough, with the proofer basket rings, on top.

5. Air fry for 20 minutes at 390°F, shaking gently after 10 minutes. Before removing from the fryer, check the internal temperature with a kitchen thermometer to make sure the bread is between 190°F and 200°F.

6. Transfer the boule to a baking rack. Allow the bread to cool for two to three hours before slicing it.

Note: Fields recommends adding water depending on the hydration of your starter. You may need to add water until the dough feels sticky and slightly elastic once mixed.

Long live the banana bread:

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